DISRESPECT: AN UNDERMINING FACTOR TO HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN NIGERIA
Not long, a well-known chief was being laid to rest in Sankera, Zaki-Biam, Ukum LGA, Benue State, and in the programme of events the name of a former governor of the state was omitted among those who will be addressing the mourners. For this omission, the supporters of the former governor obstructed the representative of the sitting governor from reading the governor’s address to the mourners, insisting that the former governor speaks first. And when the former governor ascended to address the mourners, supporters of the sitting governor objected. If respect were to be allowed to guide the actions of the personalities as well as their supporters, the former governor, should have been allowed to address the mourners, followed by the sitting governor. Also those who made the programme of event should have anticipated the presence of reputable politicians like the former governor(s), since the chief in question was a well-known and respected personality. If all these little things were to have been considered, love and friendliness as promoted by respect would definitely have filled the minds of all present at that event
A greater percent of people in our dear nation have lost the sense of respect for fellow countryman/woman. This is consciously and unconsciously exhibited in all fields of human endeavour in Nigeria. Worthy of mention are those of political and religious circles. The loss for respect for another has for long sustained uncivil and antagonistic attitudes in workplaces, religious houses and institutions of learning. There are lots of clamour against corruption now than ever, a very lovely step everyone must commend. In the first place, if I have respect for another person, my heart should ordinarily be moved with deep thoughts of not stealing from or inflicting pain on the other whom I claim to serve. Our individual failures of not making our own this ideology of respect, have eluded our attainment of ‘unity, peace and progress.’
The respect implied herein is “polite behaviour towards or care for somebody or something that you think is important.” From the above definition as adopted from the eighth edition of the Oxford dictionary, respect implies a polite behaviour offered to another as well as caring for another. The last part of the definition which stresses on doing so to ‘a person or thing one think is important,’ seems to be an escape route to those who are inclined to being disrespectful. This is so, because they will claim that their respect is given to persons and things they feel are important to them. In other words, those and things who do not hold any value for them cannot be respected by them. Some Nigerians in various life endeavours fall into this category of persons, who have segmented their respect. The increase in this inhuman practice is contributing greatly to the underdevelopment the nation is witnessing. A great deal of this disrespectful attitude is constantly reflected in the religious, political and social circles of our dear nation.
In the religious circle, we see where a good number of those in various clerical leadership in this country, look down on the faithful, incline to making false prophesies and seeing them most times as just tools to satisfy their material gains in their ministry. On the part of the followers of particular religions, they disrespect God by placing their faith in the hands of their ministers, such that they cannot on their own kneel and pray to God or seek God’s face on particular challenges. Instead, they continually rush to a certain “powerful” minister, with firm belief in the minister (not God). Most followers of the Christian religion have continually disrespected the simplest of God’s Commandments, which is loving God through the love of others.
In the political circle, lot of practices that ordinarily should have existed among beasts are nurtured and carried out by most persons in politics. This beast-like practice which connotes disrespect in politics, is when one in political leadership allocates to him/herself or to a few what should go to the development of the citizens. Again, when they do little of what is expected of them for the people, they do so with arrogance. They continuously turn deaf to the cries of the people they govern, and are ever ready to abuse them for demanding to be treated well. Such was a governor who, when his people demanded for a fair fee in state public schools, said that “education is not for the poor.” I guess it is time people begin to compile the abusive statements of our politicians and use same to evaluate their leadership styles.
With regard to disrespect in the social circle, most Nigerians see each other as rivals instead of real friends. People now base their association with others on material gains. Actions such as these have relegated good human relationship to the background, giving rise to incivilities. Employers see the workforce as a tool which must be pressurised to deliver. And on daily basis ethnic affiliations and connections are preferred most times to professionalism and quality delivery. Workers who at any point in time demand fair treatment or criticize administrative polices (which would have helped the organization grow) are at the risk of being punished.
Conclusively, the extent of harm being done to us as a result of not finding interest in respecting ourselves, others and events around us, is so huge. And its steady increase is in actual terms the leading factor behind inhuman practices in our dear country; worthy of mention are corrupt practices, terror acts and oppressive governance. Correcting this should begin from human development institutions like the families, schools, and worship centres. Those in charge of impacting knowledge in these institutions, should see that the truth about the gains of respect in our society are continually re-echoed.
Mr. Iroaganachi, Innocent Umezuruike, BA/MA Communication Studies,
Catholic Institute of West Africa (CIWA PH), Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, +234(0)9054043822, wrote from Zaki-Biam, Benue State, Nigeria.